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WSRE’s Imagination Station receives national award

Posted by Mary Riker on

Pensacola, FL, October 30, 2014—The National Educational Telecommunications Association has honored WSRE’s Imagination Station with the 2014 NETA Award for Community Engagement Based on a Local Project. WSRE General Manager Sandy Cesaretti Ray accepted the award on behalf of the Public Broadcasting Service member station last week during the NETA Professional Development Conference in Dallas, Texas.

Located at the Pensacola Bayfront Stadium, the Imagination Station is a free, educational public venue designed to promote early education and provide access and exposure to family learning activities. Parents, and often grandparents, accompany their children and enjoy playing and learning together in an activity center like no other in this region and unique to PBS nationwide. 

The Imagination Station leverages a vast assortment of educational resources available through PBS and is equipped with books, educational toys and touchscreen technology loaded with PBS KIDS educational games.

“Our goal is to make a more significant impact on early learning by bringing a proven model of effective early literacy education and parent engagement to the community,” said Jill Hubbs, WSRE’s director of Educational Services. “At the Imagination Station, we facilitate the love of reading with an assortment of quality children’s books and reading activities.”

The target population is children from birth through age 8, the preschool through early elementary years, and the adults in their lives.

Recent meet-and-greet events with popular PBS characters—Buddy from “Dinosaur Train” and Daniel Tiger from “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood”—drew hundreds of families to the stadium. According to Hubbs, the Imagination Station welcomed more than 10,000 guests in the first year of operation. On an average weekday morning, the facility serves 75 to 100 children and adults.

“Visiting the Imagination Station is free and fun,” said Hubbs, “and the response from visitors of all ages has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Hours of operation for the general public are Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9 a.m. to noon. Tuesdays and Thursdays are set aside for special group visits by organizations including Head Start, Autism Pensacola, Early Steps, Capstone Academy, Title I schools and different literacy groups. The Imagination Station is also open for all Pensacola Blue Wahoos home games during baseball season.

Pensacola Blue Wahoos baseball team owners Quint and Rishy Studer offered use of the 1,500 square-foot space at the stadium to WSRE and Pensacola State College in early 2013.

“We were thrilled when WSRE partnered with the Wahoos to create a great place for children to learn,” said Quint Studer. “We believe a key is to bring educational opportunities to the child. The location of the Imagination Station in a place that attracts thousands and superb, dedicated staff make for a winning combination. As always, WSRE opens the door to learning and opportunity.”

The NETA judges reportedly were impressed by the provision of a safe place to learn for kids and parents who cannot afford the latest technology.

“This NETA award is a well-deserved, national recognition of the excellent work done by Jill Hubbs and her WSRE staff to advance early education in our community,” said Ed Meadows, president of Pensacola State College.

Media Contact:
Mary Riker
(850) 484-1211 office
(850) 572-4476 cell